complete verse (John 8:17)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 8:17:

  • Uma: “‘In your own Book of Law it is written like this: ‘If there are at least two witnesses whose words are the same, their testimony may be believed.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “It is written in your law,’ said Isa, ‘if the witness of two people is the same, what they say is true.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “There is a writing in your law which says the testimony of two is reliable if it agrees.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “It is written (concessive particle) in your law that what two witnesses say is to-be-believed if what they testify is the same.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “It is written in your handed-down laws which says there, if the testimonies of two people are the same, they must be acknowledged as true.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “In the law you follow it is written that when two witnesses say the same thing it is necessary to believe what they say.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal pronoun: Jesus addressing religious leaders

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Tuvan uses a formal vs. informal 2nd person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Unlike other languages that have this feature, however, the translators of the Tuvan Bible have attempted to be very consistent in using the different forms of address in every case a 2nd person pronoun has to be used in the translation of the biblical text.

As Voinov shows in Pronominal Theology in Translating the Gospels (in: The Bible Translator 2002, p. 210ff.), the choice to use either of the pronouns many times involved theological judgment. While the formal pronoun can signal personal distance or a social/power distance between the speaker and addressee, the informal pronoun can indicate familiarity or social/power equality between speaker and addressee.

Here, Jesus is addressing religious leaders with the formal pronoun, showing respect. Compare that with the typical address with the informal pronoun of the religious leaders.

The only two exceptions to this are Luke 7:40/43 and 10:26 where Jesus uses the informal pronoun as a response to the sycophantic use of the formal pronoun by the religious leaders (see formal pronoun: religious leaders addressing Jesus).

In most Dutch translations, the same distinctions are made, with the exception of Luke 10:26 where Jesus is using the formal pronoun.


The Greek that is translated in English as “Law” or “law” is translated in Mairasi as oro nasinggiei or “prohibited things” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Nyongar with a capitalized form of the term for “words” (Warrinya) (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

In Yucateco the phrase that is used for “law” is “ordered-word” (for “commandment,” it is “spoken-word”) (source: Nida 1947, p. 198) and in Central Tarahumara it is “writing-command.” (wsource: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)